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CHAPTER VI

MUSICAL INTERLUDE

THE ideal travel book should be full of sounds. The dialogues
should be set against the hum of traffic or the surgs of seas. In the
shades of the palaces there should be countless echoes—the echoes
of footsteps in the corridors and rain of the roof. But most writers
of travel books seem to be deaf; they enamel their skies to per-
fection but rob them of the birdsong; they trace most delicately
the facade of a temple but forget the barrel organ which is bawling
at the gates.

Though this not not a travel book it is a book in which we do a
good deal of travelling, and in order that it should come to life we
must now take note of the fact that throughout our wanderings we
have been accompanied by a perpetual undercurrent of strange
sounds. They have drifted in through the window when the peons
were singing over a fire of wood and dung; they have rung out in
the streets as a religious procession has wailed along in the wake of
a pink and gold idol; they have burst from the radio like a sudden
calamity; and sometimes, in the everting, as we walked through a
village, there has been the sound of flutes from the paddy fields.

In. other words, we have travelled to music. And since all art—
in Walter Pater's over-quoted opinion,—'tends to the condition
of music/ it is high time that we cocked an ear and went out into
ttie highways and by-ways in an endeavour to understand what
this music is saying. Our quest may lead us to some strange places
and some curious conclusions, but when it is over it is possible
that we shall have learned several things about India which might
otherwise have remained obscure.

H
Tae firbt act is laid in exalted circles.   Since Indian music, to
most Europeans, in not only quite incomprehensible but actively